Learning Kreyòl

  • Posted on: 16 June 2015
  • By: dheacock

"Kijan ou ye?"  "Pa pi mal. E ou menm?"  "Anfòm!"* 

Several short-term missionaries at LFMC are learning Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisyen) as we look forward to heading back to Haiti for one of the upcoming trips to Cap Haïtien. It's a short, four-week, eight-hour course in "survival Creole," intended to help us learn a few simple phrases that we can use to communicate with the children we meet (and some of whom we sponsor) and also with some of the school staff and our Haitian coworkers.

Kreyòl is a wonderfully simple language--anyone who has ever struggled with verb declensions in Spanish, German, or French will appreciate the fact that there are NO verb declensions in Kreyòl. Anyone who has been frustrated by having to memorize the various masculine and feminine nouns and articles in other languages (German is particularly aggregious in this way) will LOVE the fact that there is no such thing in Kreyòl. 

We're having fun stumbling through the few challenging pronunciation issues the language presents. We're also enjoying the fact that there are many very fine online resources available for free from KU's Institute for Haitian Studies. We won't become fluent Kreyòl-speakers any time soon, but at least we'll be able to have simple conversations and maybe connect with someone who doesn't speak our language.

It occurs to me that this is what incarnational ministry is about--learning to speak the language. It's what Jesus did when he left the Father's side and came into our world, to walk with us, to speak our language, to experience our lives (and ultimately to die for us). It also occurs to me that this is something we also must learn to do here in our own culture--many of us (particularly those of us who are getting along in years) have seen a culture grow up around us that is essentially foreign to us--for many of us, it may be time to learn a new "language" right here. 

*"How are you doing?" "Not too bad. And you?" "Great!"